The 2017 Gardening Thread

So, this is getting a late start this year, primarily because (fingers crossed) we’re tentatively scheduled to close on a house on April 6, and will be putting our condo on the market shortly. So I haven’t really been able to do much of anything yet this year, because in addition to being busy as hell prepping the condo for sale, starting seeds on a rack in the living room seems pretty incompatible with trying to show a condo for sale.

However, we seem to be in the home stretch on the house, and it has an actual YARD With lots of sun! I’m very excited at the prospect of being able to grow things that actually require sun. One of my co-workers offered to give me any extra veggie seedlings that she will have, primarily tomatoes, and another friend will let me dig up as many raspberries as I want (and probably some wild strawberries - she has 10 acres in Wisconsin). We will need to build or otherwise acquire some raised beds at the new place for veggies (though I was thinking that we are going to want to take down the chimney, which would leave all kids of recycled brick for projects like that, or maybe a patio?). And I will probably buy some plants and seeds/bulbs, too.

The house has been a rental property for the past few years, and there’s nothing planted there but grass that I can see, so it’s totally a tabula rasa. Tentatively, I’m thinking:

Various herbs (these I will probably buy at a local nursery)
Cucumbers (regular and Armenian - the Armenian were a big hit last year, and I got insane yields from a single plant). No more cornichons; the plant didn’t produce enough at one time to make pickling viable.
Maybe another crack at small melons - we didn’t get a huge yield last year, but they were delicious!

What other flowers/bulbs that like full sun can be planted in the spring? I still have some calendula seeds from last year.

Also, the new place has basement windows that are decently above ground level, and the front ones look out under the front porch. What can I plant under the front porch that doesn’t require sun, but is less boring than patchy grass?

Also, I planted the following in the community garden beds next door and covered with several inches of straw, and we had such a mild winter - no snow in January or February in Chicago? - and I’m dying to go out there and pull off the straw and see how they did:

Red clover (to improve the soil)
Bok choy

If it’s not pouring all weekend, I’ll go do some work out there and pull off the straw so the beds can get some sun. The garlic is poking through the straw already. Theoretically it’s not supposed to be ready until July, but I’m thinking it will be earlier because of the mild winter. We won’t be moving to the new place for a few weeks at least because we are going to do some work there first, and we’re only moving a mile away, so it’s easy enough for me to keep working in the community garden even after we move. And I want my garlic, dammit! And not all the beds were taken last year, so I don’t think anyone will mind if I come back for the stuff I already planted, though I probably won’t plant anything new there.

How are you all doing? What are your gardening plans?

My gardening plans are a bit complicated this year, as I just found out I’m going to be moving away in August, and I currently don’t know what sort of place I’ll be moving to (I’m going to study horticulture, but it’s not a full size university, and there are no student dorms or anything, so I’ll be trying to find a private let, in a rural area with not much choice).

I’m really hoping I can bring stuff in pots, and find somewhere to keep 'em, but mostly I’m trying to just maximize my crops before I go, as I have a full allotment. I’ve already got tomatoes and chillis, which are a few inches high, my broad (fava) beans are just popping up, and I’ve sowed a few hardy things like parsnips, but I’m having to re-write my whole growing plan in a hurry, as I’d planning on dedicating half the plot to pumpkins 'n winter squash, but I’d be moving before they had a chance to ripen.

If trying to condense a whole allotment down to a few pots wasn’t tough enough, I also have a hive of bees to bring. It should be interesting at least!

How damp is the area under your porch? Ferns are always nice in shady places if they’re not too dry, but I live in a totally different climate, so I don’t really know what would be good for your area.

Ferns would probably be very happy there, but they would block the windows. I’m trying to think of something more in the realm of ground cover, or no more than 8 - 10" high.

We’ve torn up all of our out-of-control strawberry plants, the bed for which has been taken over by weeds, as well. I think we’ll put new plants in, and maybe some raspberry bushes.

In the veggie garden, we’ll be doing a sweet millions cherry tomato bush as usual, and we’re going to try a mid-sized tomato plant and see how it does. Large tomatoes have trouble maturing here. We’ll also do the usual squash and perhaps some others. The chives and parsley survived the winter without any problem (to my surprise). I may try some tarragon.

My current ‘garden’ consists of a hanging pot that is home to a Cherokee Purple tomato plant. Hopefully I will have ripe fruit for my sandwiches no later than the Fourth of July; until then I will live vicariously through this thread. :slight_smile:

Ah. Maybe there area few ferns that short, but I see your point. Pulmonaria maybe.? I grow tons of that, and it’s tough as old boots even in shade, at least here, and it’s pretty. What zone is your area?

We’re hitting it hard this year. Last summer we were still reeling from the cross-country move, and only managed some tomatoes and zucchini. This year we’ve bought a little plastic greenhouse, and I am hitting the seed-starting hard.

I’m planning a cool-colored herbaceous border full of hollyhocks, lupines, delphiniums, foxglove, and flowering herbs. Lots of those seeds/cuttings are taking up greenhouse space right now.

I’ve just now, today, put in our soft fruit: three currants, three gooseberries, 25 strawberry plants, and four rhubarb roots.

And for the veg patch I’m trying All Out. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, chard, lettuce, peas, carrots, scallions, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, bush beans, and pumpkins. The brassica seeds have germinated but I put the nightshades in too early, so they’re just sulking.

We also have a “forest garden” area with three ailing laurel trees and an obstreperous hypericum groundcover that I’m killing back bit by bit and replacing with bulbs, iris, hellebore, and hostas. It’s come to my attention that Jung sells the woodland flowers we left behind in the midwest–Virginia bells, bloodroot, trilliums, Dutchman’s Breeches–so maybe next year, when the hypericum is well and truly dead (and the damn laurels maybe replaced with magnolias) I will put those in too.

Future plans include a warren of raised beds in the old horse corral, which is unfortunately full of sand, as well as eventually digging and replacing that sand around the edges for a hot-colored herbaceous border, full of things my husband likes, like dinner plate dahlias and red hot poker.

The south end of our middle pasture is full of scrub now. My husband is slowly taking it down. When it’s completely clear, we’ll put in the orchard there. We definitely want bay laurel, filberts, sour cherries, and plums. We already have one apple tree, and it does so well that I don’t know if we’re tempted to put in more or not.

And then there are the pernicious Puget Sound area blackberries. We have several biiiiiiig patches of those.

I bought a loofah a few months ago, and it had seed inside. I have to start them inside now, so they’re big. That’s the only squash I’m really interested in.

Right now, the broccoli rabe sown in autumn is bringing to grow. We’ll get some shoots, then let it go to seed, before we plow under.

The usual tomato, bush beans, plated in the sunny side and the half shady side (the latter grow late into September here in the Northeast.)

We’ve planted mini chilies, they’ll be ready for chili pepper jam. I also want to buy some habeneros. I’ll let them ripen to yellow and red, so I can have Christmastime hot pepper jelly.


Costco had a box of 2 Chicago fig trees for $12.99 today, so I bought them. Anything I should know?

Actually, 6a because we’re close to the lake.

P.S. Anyone have suggestions for where to buy fruit trees? I’m tentatively thinking of peach and cherry. But I may be biting off more than I can chew, and have never grown fruit trees. And the yard isn’t exactly huge. Local would be great, but I’m willing to try mail order if it’s worthwhile.

I picked some cabbages, celery and green onions today. I planted them back in October and then went overseas for 3 months. The cabbages were a bit sluggy on the outer leaves but very nice inside. And the celery is so strongly flavoured compared with shop-bought. Still wet and cool here so I’ll hold off from my tomatoes for at least another few weeks. More Romas, I think, and, of course, pickling cukes.

Sent from my Moto G Play using Tapatalk

We went to a fruit tree care class at a local nursery after we inherited an Asian pear tree when we bought our house. The first thing the expert said to us was: “If you’re planning to plant fruit trees, my advice is DON’T. They are notoriously difficult to maintain and susceptible to all manner of pests and disease.”

Goodness! What a grouch! My friend just went to a similar class here in the Bay Area and she said the guy THERE was very encouraging! We have a great climate for tree fruits.

He also said not to bother paying extra for dwarf varieties of trees, and that if you want a small tree, just prune it to the size you want. You’ll be pruning every year anyway, most fruit trees bear on new wood.

Eva Luna, I suggest you ask your local Master Gardeners for recommended varieties of peach and cherry for your area. They’ll have the best info. Cherry trees have chilling hour requirements which vary a lot by cultivar.

He was also right about it. Our pear tree had moths boring into them that first year, which ruined most of the 70 pounds of fruit we harvested. We had a tree service start spraying it for any sort of non-insect problems, and they put in a trap for the moths before the next fruiting season, which helped a lot. But it ain’t cheap.

I have nothing going besides a tomato plant I over wintered as a experiment. We got a blizzard two weeks ago and that stopped everything. I do have grapevine cuttings from my mid February trim up, in water trying to grow roots. Raining as I type this and it sounds of spring…

The snow melted enough today that I could see my strawberries for the first time.

To everyone who is doing flowers in addition to veggie gardens, don’t the deer eat everything?

I have my veggie garden behind a 7 foot fence. I have a few deer resistant things but, they will eat everything in a bad year. Moose even snacked on my rhododendrons this winter.

Not a huge issue within Chicago city limits!

I thought about this, when I was lying awake at 3am. It seems akin to telling people not to have kids because they’re a constant resource drain. I mean, yes, but that’s ignoring all the benefits. If nothing else, cherry and pear and apple trees have a couple weeks of gorgeous blossom in the springtime, and even on trees you don’t get lots of usable fruit from, you can pull off a few pieces to nibble at, and it’s a good conversation piece.

And sometimes you get lucky, like we did last year. Ten bushels of flawless apples from a tree we hadn’t sprayed. Wheeeee!

Fruit trees are like members of the family. I’m still sad about my grandparents’ Norhtstar cherry that died twenty years ago.